Thursday, October 20, 2016

Creepy Days in the Garden (a FREE! book day!)

When people think of the Garden, they think of Peace. Calm. Perfection.
Eternal Life.
Then they remember the Serpent.
The Garden hadn't suffered the step of a human for millennia upon millennia...
...until Tib came.
It had become the place of the Undying.

Creepy days continue in the Garden, but don't follow Tiberius too closely.
You don't know what he might find.

Get "The Garden" today! For FREE!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Family Used To Live Here (pictures I like)

It was foggy that last morning.
Not that that was unusual. There was often fog in the morning.
It was quite a bit thicker than most mornings on that last morning, though.
There was a strange light in the fog. Red and blinking.
Pa thought it was kinda purty.
It made him think of Rudolph, but it wasn't Christmas. Not even close.
He called to Ma in the house, "Hey, Ma, come look at this."
Little Sally, of course, came bounding after Ma as she stepped out onto the porch, "What is it, Pa? What is it?"
The women folk saw the light the same as Pa did,
Ma wanted to take Pa's hand, but Little Sally was too busy pulling and tugging on her for Ma to get over to Pa.
"Let's go see it, Ma! Com'on, Pa, let's go find out what it is!"
Before Ma or Pa could say "Stay put!" there was a bright flash of light, bright as day, and the three never moved again.
The blinking red light pulsed a few more times, then it, too, was gone.

Later, after the fog broke, a little boy was pulling his mother along through the field as they went out to market. He almost tripped on the little tin house and the little tin people. "What is it, Momma? What is it?"
The mother and the boy crouched down to look.
"I don't know," she said. "Some kind of doll house, I suppose."
The little began trying to pick up the tin house that was half as big as he was, "Can I keep it, Momma? Can I? Can I keep it?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clone Wars -- "Darkness on Umbara" (Ep. 4.7)

-- The first step towards loyalty is trust.

[Remember, you can sign up to join the Clone Wars Project at any time by clicking this link.]

Finally! The show gets interesting again!
And I don't really know where I want to begin. Mostly, that's because I remember some of this arc, and I need to write this up without providing any spoilers.

Let's start with the planet.
Umbara is a planet shrouded in darkness. In fact, it is called the Shadow World and the Umbarans are known as the Shadow People. During an assault against one of the cities, the clones discover the planet itself (the fauna and flora) is as deadly as its inhabitants.
[This episode actually fits in perfectly with this month's theme of "creepy days" here on the blog. It is most definitely a creepy planet, shrouded in mists, and full of strange lights and glowing creatures.]

The major development of the episode, though, is the introduction General Pong Krell, a Jedi with a rather fearsome reputation. He relieves Anakin of command of his unit (against Anakin's wishes) because Anakin has been called back to Coruscant. It's almost immediately clear that Krell is an asshole. Um, I mean, a hardass. Despite the protest of Captain Rex, Krell discards Anakin's strategies for one that is, at best, highly reckless. It is also quite clear that Krell has no regard for the clones and refers to them each by their numbers rather than their chosen names. They are not men to Krell.

Krell is a very imposing figure, the same race as the diner owner from Attack of the Clones. With his four arms, he wields not one but two, two!, double-bladed lightsabers. And he doesn't hesitate about threatening his own troops with them. Because that's okay when you don't view your troops as quite sentient.

Now you see the setup...

Monday, October 17, 2016

The End of 'The Affair' (a review post)

My wife and I don't watch a lot of TV. In fact, we don't actually watch "TV" at all. Everything we watch is after the fact on DVD. This allows us to vet the shows we're going to watch, at least to some extent. The Affair was one of those shows that was getting a lot of buzz, and my wife wanted to check it out, so we spent a few weeks and watched season one.

I never really took a liking to the show (Well, actually, I just didn't like any of the characters. Any of them.), but I can't say it wasn't interesting. If you don't know anything about it, the first season is told by viewing the same incidents from each of the main two characters points of view. So you would watch everything through Noah's eyes and, then, watch the same events through Alison's eyes. The differences were intriguing and, from a psychological standpoint, I found it interesting enough to engage in.

Plus, there was a murder.

There's no resolution to the murder plot at the end of season one, so we decided to move on to season two. Now, here's where it gets tricky. The characters are pretty well established by the end of season one, but we don't get exactly those characters in season two. In season one, the plot flows out of the characters and their motivations; in season two, the characters are made to flow out of the "needs" of the plot, and that always makes characters behave in unbelievable ways.

It's actually one of the biggest failings of episodic television; at some point some writer will want to do a particular story that requires a character (or characters) to act out-of-character. When it causes the audience to say, "Wait, that character would never do that," you have a problem, because, the truth is, people tend to act in very predictable ways. Which is not to say that there aren't times when people don't act "out of character," but, when they do, it's not sporadic and generally has a pattern all of its own. However, when you are busy bending characters to cause plot points to happen whether those things are appropriate to the characters or not, you end up with an unbelievable show.

So we spent season two feeling out of sorts with the characters and the things they were doing. It's not that I don't understand, especially as a writer, wanting specific things to happen, but, if you can't figure out a way to have those things happen from the character's motivations, you need to find another way around.

Or, you know, be writing a horror story. Because, in a horror story, if you want to make one of your characters start eating spiders, you can totally do that, even if that character had been the most arachnophobic person on the planet. There's always a way to explain erratic behavior in a horror story!

Not that it's not kind of a horror story when your characters start getting all unbelievable on you. Creepy, I would say. And, well, actually, Noah is kind of creepy. But, then, he's a writer, and writers were rated in the top 10 creepiest professions for men. Oh, wait, I'm a writer...





Yeah, okay, I don't recommend The Affair. It's obviously one of those shows that was went with the initial idea before they'd thought it all the way through, and, now, they're just making it up as they go along. Plus, it's full of horrible people.
Did I say horrible? I mean horrible.

Friday, October 14, 2016

"The Unnamable" (a book review post)

Okay, before anyone says anything, I know "unnamable" is "misspelled." It is not misspelled because I am spelling it incorrectly; it is "misspelled" because that's how Lovecraft spelled it, so I can only assume that that was the correct spelling at the time. I'm assuming that because Lovecraft was rather a fascist of grammar, so it would be more than odd for him to have such a glaring mistake.

Now... Does anyone remember that old horror story (it was told by one of the boys in Dead Poets Society) about the person putting together the jigsaw puzzle only to have it reveal a picture of the person in question being murdered, an event which immediately happens upon completion of the puzzle? Yeah, you should just keep that in mind.

This story made me chuckle. It begins as a philosophical discussion between the narrator, who is an author, and his friend, who is a high school principal, about the author's foible of referring to things in his stories as "indescribable" or "unnamable." The principal holds that this is a "puerile device" of the author and is the reason, at least in part, that he has not become more successful. I have to imagine that Lovecraft is here reflecting upon actual comments to him as an author, because it's one of the things that has come to annoy me most about his writing, his constant retreat into saying that something is too horrifying to describe. The narrator, Randolph Carter, attempts to defend himself.

The two men are, of course, sitting on a tomb in a cemetery as they have this conversation. And, of course, something is going to go terribly wrong.

It was a clever set up. Lovecraft offers us pieces of the surroundings as he tells us about the two men talking, the dilapidated house not far away, the tombstone engulfed by a tree, the very tomb they are sitting on. Then, as Carter begins his defense about unnamable things, he relates to his friend a story, and we discover that they are in the very place where the story takes place. If you're paying attention (and, yes, I know I'm ruining this part), it will dawn on you as he tells the story to his friend, but, if not, at the end of the story, his friend says he would really like to see the house from the story. Carter replies that he can, or could have before it got too dark (because it is so dark at that point that the two men can't even see one another), because it's right over there.

And that is when things go to hell.

I liked this one a lot. That Lovecraft was willing to point out and, to a certain extent, even make fun of this failing of his as a writer, even in the midst of defending himself, is interesting to see. The story within the story becoming the setting for what happens in the story was also sufficiently subtle and interesting. I think this is possibly the most sophisticated of the stories I've read by him to date. Even if it does fall back to his favorite style of ending, which is, of course, the point.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Creepy Days of the Man with No Eyes (a FREE! book day!)

 Man with No Eyes
He's been called many things during his days walking the Earth.
"Master of Shadows"
"Shadow Walker"
"Soul Eater"
But the thing he is most often called is the Man with No Eyes.
For obvious reasons.

What happened to his eyes, you might ask?
Well, that is a tale for another time and one you might be sorry to have asked about once you've heard it. So that you understand:
"And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell..."

You won't find out what happened to his eyes today, but you can get "The Man with No Eyes" for FREE! today and tomorrow! Spread the word.
But don't trust the shadows.